Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday Paddlers - San Marcos River

Requiem for a Camera - Part II

Seventeen paddlers met at the Power Olympic Outdoor Center, located where Interstate 35 crosses over the San Marcos River. After a somewhat disjointed shuttle, my van and boat trailer were left at Westerfield Crossing (for those who wanted a shorter trip), while most of the remaining vehicles ended up at the Scull Road bridge.  We were on the water before 10:30.  The river was running at an enjoyable 184 cfs, just a little below the median of 200 cfs for May 30.  For some reason, the San Marcos River has not been affected as severely as our other Central Texas rivers by the drought.  And, despite our recent heat wave, we were rewarded with what turned out to be a relatively pleasant day.

Note:  Click on any photo to enlarge.

A very short distance downstream from our launch is Thompson's Island. Three of us chose to run Cape Falls, with varying degrees of success, while everyone else made the portage.  Kathy recorded my near-perfect descent in the forgiving Whitesell Piranha, the only canoe in our group.  Unfortunately, that video is not available for our viewing pleasure.  More on that later.

Just three weeks after his successful completion of the 270-mile Texas Water Safari, John was ready to be on the San Marcos River again.  But for a more manageable 8 miles this time. Here is John immediately after passing under the bridge at Cape Road.

Note:  For eleven more photos showing thirteen paddlers at this location, click here and then click on "Slideshow."

A short distance downstream from the end of Thompson's Island, we encountered a river-wide obstacle.  A large tree on river right had snapped at the base and fallen across the river.  A very narrow gap along the left bank allowed a few of the smaller kayaks to sneak by the tree, but most of the boats had to be hauled over the trunk of the tree to get to the other side.  We waited while the group in front of us slowly (very slowly) worked their way around and over the downed tree.  Then it was our turn.  John and Kenny helped lift boats over the tree, and assisted paddlers (some more agile than others) out of their boats on one side and back in on the other.

A few kayaks were able to make it through the left-hand sneak route.  On Kathy's second attempt, she turned over.  She and her kayak then squeezed through the narrow gap.  After remounting, Kathy decided to paddle back towards the tree for a few photos to memorialize the adventure.  Unfortunately, some low-hanging branches snagged her, and over she went for the second time.  The small cord securing the camera to her vest snapped, and Kathy's last view of her camera was of an orange object heading towards the bottom of the river.  The good news - the camera is waterproof.  The bad news - being waterproof doesn't help when the camera disappears.  This camera had been a Mother's Day gift, replacing the camera lost on the Guadalupe River on March 17.  See that story here.  Anyway,  both the Guadalupe River and the San Marcos River have now been blessed with expensive photographic equipment.  Perhaps a way to appease the river gods, bringing us good fortune in other ways?

A windmill on river right a short distance upstream from the junction of the river with the Blanco River.

After lowering our boats over Cummings Dam, we stopped for lunch.  In this group photo, Joan hides behind her hat, while Miguel tries to hide behind his tongue.

When we reached Westerfield Crossing, I fetched the van and drove it close to the bridge.  Only Kathy chose to take out there.  The rest of the three or four of us who had originally planned on ending our trip there decided to continue on to Scull Road.  As the group continued on down the river, Kathy and I loaded her kayak on the trailer.  After receiving directions to the take-out, Kathy drove off and I returned to my canoe, intent on catching up with the group.

Westerfield Crossing also happens to be where hordes of tubers begin their slow journey, and we had arrived at the height of rush hour.  Large groups of tubers infested the river for the next mile or two, often almost completely covering the full width of the river.  Weaving in and out of the groups of tubes slowed me down, although there were some nice views along the way.  I didn't catch up with the tail end (now why did that expression come to mind?) of our group until Cottonseed Rapid.  Soon we had all arrived at Scull Road.  A quick call to Kathy brought her and the van from where she had parked nearby.

After some shuttling of paddlers and boats back to the put-in and a drive back to Martindale for a tasty meal at the Cottonseed Cafe & Deli, we were on our way home.  Plans to return the next day with snorkeling equipment to search for the camera never came to fruition, bringing this episode of "Requiem for a Camera" to a close.  But be sure to stay tuned for future installments.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Paddlers - San Marcos River

Note:  Click on any image to enlarge.

With low water almost everywhere else, and with the excitement of the Texas Water Safari the prior weekend still fresh in our minds, the Saturday Paddlers ventured onto the San Marcos River. 
The river was running at slightly over 200 cfs, which is average for this time of year.  An early start was scheduled by Dear Leader.  She wanted to avoid the marauding hordes of tubers who would be arriving later in the morning.  We launched our boats at Westerfield Crossing around 10:30.  Seven of us would take out at the Scull Road crossing, while the remaining five paddled about two miles further, taking out at Spencer's Campground at the FM 1979 crossing.

Joan and Dan led the way, ...

... with Sally close behind.

Sandra, Nell, and Richard (above), were followed by Nancy G.

It was fun having Greg and Renee join us.  Renee was her usual demure self.

A near collision at Broken Bone Rapid.  Joan came roaring through as I was trying to surf the waves.

Cottonseed Rapids

Kathy enters the main rapids.

What determination!


Joan makes it through with ease.

Greg and Renee show good form (even if she is splashing him).

Don and Joan keep watch while Richard snaps some photos.

Nancy maneuvered expertly.

Joline (Dear Leader) expresses relief.

Nancy returned to surf the waves.

After taking out at the Scull Road bridge crossing, seven of us journeyed to Lockhart, the "Barbecue Capital of Texas."  Hal and Carey drove down from Austin to join us at Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que Restaurant.  The food was great and the company was even better - although Kathy limited me to just one joke.

Note:  For an additional 21 photos of this outing, click here and then click on "Slideshow."